by admin on February 4, 2012

here’s something that came up in class:  clothing as a reflection of one’s self-esteem.  esme had to admit that she had never really thought about this one.  but it reminded her of her days as a clinical psychologist.  she worked for a large health-care organization and saw many new clients every week.  she liked to play a little game with herself where, upon meeting a new client in the waiting room, she would take a guess as to their diagnosis.  this was based on clothing, grooming, posture, and other less definable factors.  often, esme found she was on the mark or at least in the ball-park.

certainly, clothing can be an expression of mood.  depression is easy to spot:  slumped posture, little attention to attire/grooming, a drab, dull look.  esme herself is subject to the periodic down day, and she notices that she is much less motivated to tend to her appearance on such days.  she becomes tempted to forgo her minimal make-up, throw on any old thing, and let her hair fall where it may.  conversely, a cheerful, well-thought-out outfit can give a little boost to her mood.

self-esteem is a trickier, being more of a fixed trait rather than a mood.  a carefully put together look seems to speak of good self-esteem, and yet a devil-may-care outfit also can say “i like it and it doesn’t matter to me what anyone else thinks!”  Do clothes that fit speak well of one’s self-regard?  if so, esme might wonder about hers!  does the “too polished” look denote narcissism?  esme tends to read it this way.  and then there is the reverse snobbism among certain groups (academics, east coast old money) where a slightly worn, even raggedy look connotes class and a disdain for material matters.

what do you think, readers?  and try esme’s game next time you’re people-watching.  take a guess at the mood and/or self-esteem of passersby and see what their attire seems to say.

falling back on my psychological skills,



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